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Vaught's Views: Leffew already ready to play Kentucky

August 25, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Travis Leffew doesn't mind talking about playing Kentucky, but he's ready for the talk to end.

"I'm fired up to play right now," said Leffew, a starting offensive tackle at Louisville. "I'm ready to play right now. It's a big game for us. Everybody is talking about the game, especially the media. But I just want to play."

And win. Don't forget that.

Kentucky came into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last year and beat the Cardinals, not exactly the outcome the former Boyle County all-state lineman wanted in his first collegiate start.

"They spoiled our year last year when they took that win from us," Leffew, a sophomore, said. "We all put that loss in the back of our heads. When spring practice started, it was Kentucky this and Kentucky that. We all remember that loss."

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Leffew and his teammates hope to erase that memory Sunday when UK hosts Louisville in the season-opening game for both teams that will again be televised nationally on ESPN2. However, it's Kentucky, not Louisville, that will be favored to win this time.

Both teams have new coaches - Rich Brooks at Kentucky and Bobby Petrino at Louisville. The most significant edge for Kentucky besides playing at home would seem to be the experience of quarterback Jared Lorenzen.

Junior Bobby Leffew, Travis's brother and a defensive tackle at Louisville, remembers last year when many were assuming that the Cardinals would win. He knew then that many were underestimating Kentucky's talent and believes many are doing the same this year when they scan Louisville's personnel.

"Last year Kentucky just had to get a winning attitude back, but I knew they had talent," Bobby Leffew said. "They turned their season around because they beat us. Now we need to make sure we have that same attitude going into the game because we have good players, too. We need to get that win back."

The younger Leffew is more outspoken

That's about as brash as Bobby Leffew will ever be when talking about an upcoming opponent. However, his younger brother is more outspoken. He remembers the way UK's defensive line, which returns Jeremy Caudill and Vincent Burns, outplayed Louisville's offensive line last year. He all but guaranteed that would not happen again during Louisville's media day, a statement he doesn't regret saying.

"I don't want anybody to see any doubts in my mind about who is going to win," Travis Leffew said. "People can say we were young last season and use that as an excuse. I don't. They just outplayed us.

"We have to be confident. If not, then you don't win. I want my first game in Commonwealth Stadium to be a winning experience. That would really be a big deal for me and I plan to do my part to make sure it happens."

Nothing outrageous. Just a player expecting to win.

He's not concerned about the 3-4 alignment that new Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer uses. It's a look not many teams use, but one the Cardinals faced once or twice last year.

"Even if it is something new, we'll adjust. Our coaches are not going to be fooled by any alignment," Travis Leffew said. "We're looking at film to see what tendencies we might be able to pick up. We'll have an idea what they may throw at us and be ready for it."

But who will win?

"All I can say is don't underestimate Louisville," Travis Leffew said. "Don't just go by what happened last year. That's history. Come August 31st, we'll see how things have changed since last year. That's when the talking ends and the playing begins."

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